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EFT: Tap Into the Power to Heal
When I felt the headache starting behind my eyes, I used the first two fingers on my right hand and began tapping next to my eye and felt the pain ease. I tapped again when I felt self-doubt seeping in at work and later when my daughter’s meltdown stressed me out.
So what is this tapping thing I’m talking about? Emotional Freedom Techniques, or EFT. Discovered in the early ’90s by engineer Gary Craig, EFT is a process of clearing out energy blocks in the body, thereby easing stress and anxiety and promoting well-being. It’s much like acupuncture but without the needles.
In practice, EFT requires you to tap with your fingertips on various meridians or energy centers throughout the body while focusing on the stress, pain, problem or challenge you want to clear.
Tapping helps you to clear out negative energy disturbances and blockages and return your body to its natural state of energy flow, health and well-being, says well-known EFT practitioner Brad Yates, a California hypnotherapist who uses EFT daily both for himself and his clients.
The power at your fingertips
It’s such a simple process, one that even children can do, that its effectiveness is often overlooked and skeptics downplay its possibilities. Yet this form of Energy Psychology is gaining popularity with mainstream audiences, primarily because it’s non-invasive, and because it works, Yates says.
The biggest barrier to EFT’s effectiveness resides not in the technique, but in the beliefs and habits of the people considering EFT as a healing option. You don’t have to believe EFT works to get benefits, Yates says, but you do need to be open enough to try tapping in the first place.
Often, within the first few minutes after learning the tapping technique people experience some relief and that’s enough to keep them going, says Mary Stafford, a Tucson-based licensed counselor who began using EFT in 1981.
It worked for Baltimore Radio Talk Show host Ann Quasman. She tapped regularly for a year as a way to permanently end the chronic pain she had experienced for almost two decades after an automobile accident.
“I learned about tapping after years of taking prescription medication and trying other treatments just to manage the pain,” Quasman says. “Though tapping seemed a little ‘out there,’ I was willing to try anything. It gave me some relief immediately. Over time, the pain completely disappeared and hasn’t come back.”
Stafford says EFT can also help children and adults cope with bullies, stress and emotional and physical pain. And it’s effective in the treatment of addictions, such as smoking, as well as for weight issues and food cravings, she says.
A 2005 study published in the Counseling and Clinical Psychology Journal showed that EFT eased psychological distress. Another study out of the University of Arizona said EFT “provided an immediate effect on psychological distress, pain, and cravings” experienced by the healthcare workers who participated.
It’s powerful, too, in the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), according to a study in the international healthcare journal Traumatology. Stafford has seen firsthand how EFT can diffuse the volatile and painful memories that trigger the stressful reactions among survivors.
Practitioners say EFT can also pump up the positives in life. It’s been used to help people create abundance by dissolving limiting beliefs, and to boost vitality. Numerous studies and anecdotal reports indicate EFT does everything from improve eyesight to suppress food cravings and help people achieve peak performance.
How to tap
The greatest measure of effectiveness comes from the personal stories from people who, like Quasman, have used EFT to find relief from myriad symptoms. If you’re suffering, stressed, sluggish or sad, EFT may provide a remedy.
When you’re ready to give it a try, follow these simple steps.
1. Get comfortable. You can tap while sitting, lying down, standing, showering — Yates occasionally taps even while jogging. I prefer to sit in a chair, straight-backed.
2. Tune into the problem. Determine what’s hurting or bugging you and evaluate the intensity of the bad feeling or trouble by rating it on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being most intense and one being the least. Focus on the problem, hurt or negative feeling.
Yates says identifying the problem is essential to clearing it out. “It’s like cleaning up the mess in the sink. You can’t clean it up if you can’t see it.”
3. Develop a set-up statement. Once you’ve identified the pain, stress or trouble, declare it with a set-up statement that identifies the challenge and provides support.
Phrase your set-up statement like one of these:
- “Even though I have this (state problem here), I choose to love and accept myself.”
- “Even though I feel this pain in my back, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.”
- “Even though I feel stressed about money, I choose to deeply love and accept myself.”
4. Repeat the set-up statement while using your first three fingers to lightly tap on the side of your palm or the “karate-chop point.”
Tap forcefully enough to feel the pressure, but not so hard that you hurt or bruise.
5. Tap on the karate-chop point for several seconds while focusing on the problem and repeat the set-up statement three or four times.
For example, to tap through a feeling of stress, begin tapping on the karate-chop point and say: “Even though I feel stressed and upset over the things going on in my life, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.”
6. Begin tapping on other meridians. After repeating the set-up statement and tapping along the side of the hand, tap on these other points while repeating the set-up statement or a related phrase.
- Eyebrow: At the edge of the eye where the brow begins.
- Side of the eye: At the end of the brow, near the temple but not on it.
- Below the eye: On the upper cheek
- Below the nose
- Below the lower lip: Just above the chin.
- Collar bone: About 1 ½ inches to the side of the notch in your sternum
- Under arm: Just below the arm pit.
- Top of the head.
Some practitioners forego the top of the head point and others tap along additional meridians, but these are the basic points routinely used by most. Once you become familiar with these you can decide whether to add in others, as described in the resources included with this article or in the plethora of EFT materials now available online or in bookstores.
7. Go through the full cycle several times, tapping each point seven to 10 times while repeating the set-up statement. As you tap, and as the energy blockages began to move, you may change, shorten or adapt the phrase you’re repeating to a simple reminder statement. For example, “Even though I feel stressed about money, I choose to love and accept myself,” may transform to “This stress I’m feeling about money.” Or, “All of this stress I feel.”
8. Reevaluate. Once you’ve completed the tapping cycle a couple of times, evaluate your pain or stress or problem again on a scale of one to 10. If you feel relieved or more comfortable, you may choose to end the tapping session. If you still feel some discomfort, keep going.
9. Don’t worry about doing it right. Just get going, Yates says. The practice of EFT is forgiving and effective whether your set-up statement is phrased perfectly, or you tap exactly seven times on a pressure point. It’s a practice. As you become more familiar with the practice it gets easier to do and you will develop a comfortable rhythm that works for you.
Tapping to identify other issues
While the energy around one negative issue dissolves, other issues may rise up. In some cases, you may feel a little more uncomfortable after a session than you did before it began, Yates says. Then, you can clear that too.
EFT is a little bit like peeling an onion; as you ease one layer of stress or discomfort another emerges until all the long-held stresses are illuminated and cleared and all the energy is flowing again.
While EFT can relieve many symptoms within a few minutes, it may take several rounds of tapping to help relieve these deep-seated issues. You can tap on each one as it arises, even if you don’t know what is causing it, Stafford and Yates say.
Start with a set-up statement describing the physical symptoms that you are experiencing. Try something like this: “Even though I’m feeling this anxiety in my stomach, I love and accept myself.” Or, “Even though I’m experiencing this discomfort in my back, I deeply love and accept myself.”
Continue on as new feelings emerge. For example, if anger arises, tap on that. Then, as the anger subsides and the guilt (or another emotion) emerges, tap that away and continue through the layers of emotions until the better-feeling ones rise to the surface. Stafford also says people can tap on one negative or hurtful memory each day until the pain is exposed and eliminated.
Our limiting beliefs and self-sabotaging behaviors, such as addictions, are often a result of past experiences and memories that have burrowed their way deep into our psyche. EFT can help to uncover and clear these long-held beliefs or feelings, Stafford says.
It may be helpful to work with another EFT practitioner or find support from a counselor, friend or family member while working through more intense memories and experiences.
“EFT is a complementary therapy,” Yates says. “On its own it can do wonders, but it is powerful to get with a friend who also does EFT to work to clear that stuff out.”
Noticing the bad to feel better
With the popularity of the Law of Attraction — the principle that like energy attracts like — this practice of focusing on the negative has been criticized by some as too negative. But it’s tough to clean up, clear or fix what you can’t see or acknowledge, Yates says.
“You have to look at the mess that’s there and then you can clean it up,” Yates says. “Once it’s cleaned up, you are free to use that energy for other things.”
And that means there is plenty of time to use EFT to focus on the good things in life too, such as abundance and gratitude and well-being and love, Stafford and Yates say.
“Nothing is so good that it can’t get better,” Yates says, “A person is already pure love and joy and peace ... if you tap away all the other stuff, that’s what emerges.”
Here’s where to find more information on EFT:
Attracting Abundance with EFT by Carol Look